There are those who claim that the pretribulation rapture is an evil deception because it was invented by evil Jesuits (the evil henchmen of the Catholic Church) for the purpose of deceiving and countering the Protestant reformation, and to distract from the prophetic interpretation of the reformers that the Pope was the antichrist.
For a long time, I felt it unnecessary to investigate these claims, for several obvious reasons. Most importantly, the doctrine of the rapture does not stand or fall on who may have first noticed and taught certain elements of doctrine in scripture. The rapture doctrine is valid only if it is supported by scripture. The Protestant reformation was based on turning to scripture to resolve matters.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:That alone should be enough to put this entire matter to rest, and nothing more need be said. It is obvious that we must agree that something true, such as 2+2=4, remains true, even when such a truth is spoken by a liar, or the most evil man. Truth does not become untrue just because an evil or stupid man speaks it. Therefore, there is simply no basis for the claim that the rapture is an evil deception because futurism was once taught by an evil Jesuit. I could read 1000 pages on how the Jesuits are evil, and I can even agree on that. I could even read about, and agree that, an evil Jesuit expounded the doctrine of futurism for the evil purpose of trying to discredit the Protestant reformation. But neither of those facts has any bearing on the truthfulness of the doctrine of the pretribulation rapture.
Further, not only is the entire idea of the "Jesuit rapture" irrelevant (only scripture is relevant) but also, the idea is absurd. The doctrine of the pretribulation rapture is simply not taught by the Catholic Church! Therefore, the doctrine of the pretribulation rapture condemns the Catholic Church because it makes the Catholic Church into a "false prophet" since they do not teach it!
Yet, despite these self-evident truths which destroy the claims that "the pretribulation rapture is an evil deception because it was invented by evil Jesuit Catholics", there is no shortage of web sites that take this position. You can find many such web sites if you go to a search engine and search for "rapture jesuit ribera".
Francisco Ribera was a Jesuit, and he wrote a book on Bible Prophecy in 1585-1590 (?) with the perspective of "futurism". However, Ribera did not invent futurism! The key element of a future antichrist is easily seen in scripture itself and requires no inventiveness of any kind. Ribera simply read 2 Thess 2:3-4 and took the words "temple of God" to mean a literal rebuilt temple in Jerusalem instead of the view of the reformers that the "temple of God" was referring to the Church, because, of course, the body is the temple. (1 Corinthians 6:19, John 2:21) If anything, the view of the reformers was more inventive (requiring a sort of spiritualized substitution of words) than Ribera's view! Additionally, it is far more obvious to see the 1260 days and/or 42 months, of Revelation 12 & 13 as 3.5 years of 1260 literal days than as 1260 years. It takes no evil inventive subversive genius to simply believe what the Bible says! But the view of a future antichrist in a future literal temple is so clearly evident in the scriptures (and not an invented heresy) that it was also taught by men over 1000 years earlier by Church Fathers such as Irenaeus & Hippolytus around 125 AD. You can look those names up in a search engine and find that Irenaeus & Hippolytus interpreted Daniel's 70th week as a future event, with a future antichrist to come during a final period of tribulation. To read Irenaeus, see "IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES - BOOK V", Chapter 25, paragraph 4 at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103525.htm or http://www.ccel.org/fathers/ANF-01/iren/iren5.html or http://www.gnosis.org/library/advh5.htm To read in the Bible about the antichrist to come, see Daniel 7-12, 2 Thess 2, Matt 24, and Rev 12-13.
There are a few more false assumptions made by those who would deny the pretribulation rapture because of it's supposed Jesuit origins, and I would like to examine a few of them:
False assumption #1. They assume that the reformers and martyrs, because they died for the faith, must have had an absolutely correct and perfect view of prophecy. This assumption elevates men above scripture. The men of the Protestant reformation died because they fought against revering men, they died for the right of all men to respect scripture more than men. Therefore, putting the prophetic beliefs of the reformers and martyrs up on a pedestal is exactly the opposite of the principle for which they fought and died.
If the reformers had the ability and the right to make Christ as their head instead of the Pope, and they trusted the words of Jesus that he would lead them into truth, and they trusted in their ability to read and comprehend the scriptures, then there is nothing stopping us from doing the same thing ourselves.
Speaking of the beliefs of the reformers; there were many early English Bible translations before the King James Version in 1611. In at least seven of these early English translations from the 1500's, the Greek word "apostasia" from 2 Thess 2:3 was translated "departure" or "departing", instead of "falling away" as in the King James, or "rebellion" in other modern translations. When the word is seen as "departure", the verse can easily be seen to teach that the departure, or rapture, must come first, before the Day of the Lord is present, or that the tribulation is present. Therefore, this verse, and the early English translations of many of those martyred for the faith, strongly support the position of the pretribulation rapture. But unless one has the perspective that this prophecy is about future events and sees that the Day of the Lord starts at the time of the coming tribulation, then the "pretribulation" implications of 2 Thess 2:3 might be missed.
I acknowledge that the reformers had a good understanding of prophecy, but certainly not perfect. Not even the authors of the Bible claimed to understand prophecy perfectly in all points.
1 Corinthians 13But we, who live in the last time, should understand prophecy better than any previous generation, because that's what Daniel says, "knowledge shall be increased," and "the wise shall understand."
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.False assumption #2. They assume that the futurist view of a future antichrist is incompatible with the historicist view that the pope is the antichrist. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are often double or multiple references and double or multiple fulfillments in scripture. Just because there is an "antichrist to come" does not mean there cannot now be any antichrists such as the Pope. The scriptures clearly indicate both a future antichrist to come, and the existence of antichrists at the time scripture was written. Futurism, and the view of the pretribulation rapture, does not take the heat off the Pope.
9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
In the following two scriptures, the future antichrist to come is indicated by the phrases "ye have heard that antichrist shall come" and "whereof ye have heard that it should come". In addition with that, and not to refute that, the verses also indicate the presence of the antichrist already in the world by the phrases, "even now are there many antichrists", and "even now already is it in the world."
1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.Therefore, to say that the issue is one where the antichrist must either be interpreted as coming in the future only, or existing now in the present only, is really quite a distortion, or lie. Anyone can simply read the scriptures, and easily conclude the answer is both! Those who adhere to the view that it must be "either/or", and not both, are the ones who are playing into the hands of the Jesuits, since it was only by framing the argument in those terms could the Jesuits be successful.
1 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
False assumption #3. Often it is assumed or claimed that
Francisco Ribera invented the pretribulation rapture. But Ribera
did not teach the pretribulation rapture, he primarily taught futurism,
and an antichrist to come in the future. Admittedly, yes, Ribera
did place the rapture 45 days prior to the end of a 3.5 year tribulation,
but not 7 years before. And so, some say he was the first (I don't
believe he was, in fact, the first) to split the timing of the rapture
and the physical return of Christ. But Ribera's view was more of
a form of post tribulation or pre wrath viewpoint where the Church has
to go through most of the tribulation.
False assumption #4. Some claim, on the one hand, that the few thousands of early reformers who were killed for their faith somehow proves that their prophetic interpretation of historicism was true. On the other hand, these same people who deny the rapture will claim that the millions in China who were taught about the pretribulation rapture and who were killed for their faith just goes to show that they had the wrong prophetic view. Hmm... It seems that there is a gross inconsistency in the application of this principle which views martyrs for the faith as automatically having the right prophetic views.
I have read that Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman who went through the horrors of the Jewish holocaust, said that the doctrine of the pretribulation rapture deceived many Christians in China who were martyred because they were not prepared for being persecuted, because they were taught that persecution would only come in the future. Well, there are several problems with her evaluation. First, there is nothing in the pretrib view that says that there cannot be tribulation today. Therefore, the pretrib view was not responsible for "not preparing" anyone for persecution. So, if Christians in China were unprepared for persecution, then it must have been that they were taught an erroneous view of the pretribulation rapture. Second, there is no need to lament the deaths of Christians, if one has any understanding and faith in the resurrection at all. That's what 1 Thess 4, which is about the rapture, is all about.
1 Thess 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.Again, to revere Corrie Ten Boom's evaluation of the rapture as somehow worthy of adulation since she suffered at the hands of the Nazis is the same old error of elevating the opinions of men above what scripture says.
Here are a few of the web sites I found (I read each at least twice)
to prepare this article, to refute what they had to say.
(I believe the majority of these authors are Seventh Day Adventists)
The Jesuits and the Rapture: Emmanuel Lacunza (1790?)
See also: Morgan Edwards 1700's. He was one of the other early
teachers of the rapture.